Tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike as of Oct. 15 from West Stockbridge and Lee will increase upwards of 120% from west entries to West Springfield and between 85% to a low of 42% east to Boston, the Berkshire Beacon learned Wednesday.
The cost of travel from Lee to West Springfield will be $1.20 or 120% increase since there has been no toll on the Western section in recent years.
Other variations of toll increases will be:
-Lee to Worcester Exit 10 will be $1.35 increase or 85%-the difference from the old rate of $1.50 to $2.85.
-Lee to Millbury Exit 10A will be $1.40 increase or 82%-the difference from the old rate of $1.60 to $2.95.
-Lee to Exit 11A will be $1.40 increase or 66%-the difference from the old rate of $2.10 to $3.50.
-And Lee to Newton/Boston will be $1.60 increase or 42%-the difference of the old rate of $3.85 to $5.45.
State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) admitted he was blindsided by the knowledge that Berkshire drivers were expected to pay more money to use the turnpike after Oct. 15.
“I have yet to be given justification for it and continue to work to develop a frequent driver discount,” the Senator said.
Yet, it does not resolve the issue of why out of state motorists and Berkshire drivers will be penalized with the new rates and, thus, some drivers are scheduled to pay more for the use of the turnpike.
Meanwhile there are no increases announced for other classes of vehicles from commercial trucks by the number of axles or other variations.
The old rates apply from at least Exit 6, Springfield east.
The rate increase impacts Berkshire County drivers and out-of-state non-commercial drivers, according to the proposed rate card due to go into effect Oct. 15th.
Sara Lavoie, Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT) Press Secretary, said “So far our communication has focused on those who live, and would start and end their trips, in between Interchanges 1 through 6.
“If you travel between exits 7 and 15, your toll does not change on October 15.
“We will begin communicating to all users of the Turnpike beginning in the October via handouts at toll plazas.
E-ZPass users will be informed via their regular statements, Ms. Lavoie said.
The Mass DOT Board voted Wednesday to formally approved the restoration of tolls between exits 1 and 6.
According to a press release issued August 12, 2013 – “In accordance with legislation recently enacted by the Massachusetts House and Senate, Mass DOT has devised an implementation plan and scheduled public hearings for the restoration of private passenger vehicle tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) between Interchange 1 (West Stockbridge) and Interchange 6 (Springfield/I-291).”
There was no announcement that fees for Berkshire drivers and out of state drivers would be increased through the turnpike from a high of 120% down to 42%
The public was invited to participate in the hearings earlier this month in Lee and Springfield regarding the toll restoration, which is part of a comprehensive transportation, finance law passed by the legislature (Great & General Court) that will fund road and bridge and public transit projects across the Commonwealth.
Despite the clamor of the public opposing the toll increase for the western section of the turnpike, the deal had been sealed by members of the legislature and approved by the governor.
At no time was there talk or discussion about any increase in rates for drivers headed east on the turnpike beyond Springfield.